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Antisemitism has no place in our school communities. As a Federation, we are a social justice organization that is concerned with all forms of discrimination. Teachers are among those who are worried and facing rising antisemitism—we stand with them and will continue to stand up for their rights.

Education is key to combatting antisemitism and other forms of hate. BC teachers have long taught their students about the Holocaust, in which millions of Jewish people and others were systematically targeted and killed by Nazis during the Second World War. Since the government announced Holocaust education would become mandatory, the BCTF has also been actively engaged with our education partners in expanding this area of the curriculum. We are not only supportive of this work, but actively contributing to its implementation through regular meetings with the Ministry of Education and Child Care. We look forward to seeing every BC student emerge with a deeper understanding of the devastating global impact of the Holocaust.

The BCTF will continue to stand up against hate and discrimination, and to work with the Ministry of Education and Child Care on the implementation of mandatory Holocaust education in BC schools.

Provincial specialist associations and the application to create a new organization
The BCTF is a member-driven organization. Our decisions are made through governance structures developed with policies and procedures that are intended to create equitable conditions for decision-making. When a human rights issue like antisemitism is on the rise, we look to our policies and procedures for guidance as we seek to respond.

Provincial specialist associations (PSAs) are semi-autonomous groups supported by the BCTF that foster professional development opportunities for specialist teachers. Examples include the Association of BC Drama Educators, BC Alternative Education Association, and BC School Counsellor’s Association. The number of total PSAs over the years has been fluid, with new associations being created and others being disbanded as appropriate. PSAs are only one way that teachers organize and contribute to education or teaching resources in BC.

The BCTF Members’ Guide, which governs decision-making processes at the Federation, says that initial recognition as a PSA will be given when:

  1. it has established purposes as outlined in 33.04 (a section of the guide about fostering professional development).
  2. it has established a program; objectives, activities, related to the objectives and evaluative criteria.
  3. it has held a general meeting to approve a constitution, to elect officers, and to establish a membership fee.
  4. it has reviewed BCTF policies and procedures and accepts that they are binding on the PSA’s activities.
  5. it has a minimum membership of 100 BCTF active members.
  6. existing PSAs have made a concerted effort to accommodate the new group and the new group has made a concerted effort to have its needs met within an existing PSA.
  7. the PSA Council has made a recommendation to the Executive Committee that a PSA be established.

In a vote that was held in committee June 4, the PSA Council did not recommend the formation of the new PSA proposed by the Holocaust and Antisemitism Educators Association (HAEA). It is our understanding that the Council determined that existing PSAs already can and do support the proposed work.

In a letter to HAEA June 5, the Council shared the passage of a different motion, adding that existing PSAs are eager to partner with them:

“Despite this decision, PSAC was strongly of the opinion that they would like to find ways to help members of your association feel valued and included, and to support Holocaust education and fight against antisemitism in K–12 schools. They passed a motion to solicit and encourage collaboration between your association and volunteer PSAs within the Council to support the creation and dissemination of your timely and important resources,” the letter says.

In a separate letter to HAEA, BCTF President Clint Johnston said that although the policy for formal BCTF recognition of the organization as a PSA has not been met, the BCTF values the work of the HAEA.

“The work of the Holocaust and Antisemitism Educators Association as outlined in your program is important. We encourage you to reach out to partner groups, continue with your plans to create resources on these timely topics, and consider uploading them to TeachBC as a way to share them with your BCTF colleagues,” Johnston wrote.

The Federation is aware of the amount of work and effort that HAEA put into the pursuit of PSA status. We will be reaching out to them directly to invite a meeting to hear their concerns and discuss how to move forward.  In addition to policies and procedures for decision-making, we also have processes for complaints, internal mediation, and dialogue for any member or organization that remains concerned with this decision.

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Category/Topic: News & Updates